Daily Archives: April 5, 2015
The nuclear deal with Iran is just fine and a strong piece of international diplomacy that Obama should get credit for. Let’s take a closer look at the issues and try to respond on the basis of good policy and evidence rather than fixed ideological positions. We can begin by examining the consequences of doing nothing. In that case, the only options are to continue the let Iran develop nuclear power until it is weaponized or respond with violence by bombing their facilities and resources. Both options are just counterproductive. Bombing Iran – the position of knee-jerk conservatives and those with fantasies about killing all your enemies in one easy swoop – would be extremely provocative and probably bring about just what it is we are trying to prevent. That is, it would justify Iran’s counterattack as well as any other forms of military action. It would jeopardize Israel and the United States and move relationships backward rather than forward.
Of course the deal is not perfect and it is dependent on the quality of inspections and the conscientiousness of all the parties involved. But it’s a negotiation, a compromise, a synthesis emerging out of a thesis and antithesis with all due respects to Hegel and the logic of epistemological value. We should try to rise above the rank ideological analyses that simply equate this with appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s (I invoke my typical refrain that every time you compare a foreign policy decision to Hitler or the Nazis the quality of the arguments and discussion has just declined). This is an attempt at rational management and the prevention of unspeakable violence. There are more reasons why this deal is a step in the right direction.
First, it is not an act that leaves Israel vulnerable. If it sets the foundation for some stability, it will protect Israel rather than threaten Israel. If the sanctions work properly they will become even more intense if Iran violates the tenets of the deal. Iran must be approached as a rational actor that cares about protecting its citizens. I understand its religious proclivities and irresponsible statements regarding the existence of Israel and the U. S. (The Great Satan) but Iran is also a historically sophisticated culture that many believe want a seat at the table of civilized nations.
Secondly, the most cynical among us claim that Obama cares about nothing but his legacy. Really! Obama instituted this process with his own reputation in the future in mind only? Obama has always been more interested in a slower hand and a diplomatic stance than anything else. He believes in dialogue and contact with enemies when necessary leaving violence as a last resort. Obama recognized the importance of a nuclear deal and worked hard to achieve it.
And third, Iran may be a historical enemy of the United States, especially after the hostage crisis and the revolution in 1979, and even be a threat to some of our allies but again the nuclear deal potentially brings stability. The possible payoff of improved relations with Iran is considerable and includes a counterbalance to ISIS who are Sunni and an opportunity for Iran to forge a more stable relationship for the U. S. among some unstable places like Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon all of which are in Iran’s sphere of influence. If, and I certainly recognize that this is a conditional, this deal is even minimally effective and Iran spends more time in bridging discourse with the United States than this in itself will be a significant achievement and foundational to the management of conflict.
Assuming that Congress expresses support for the deal – and I think they will since some polls show that close to 80% of Americans support the deal – then Iran’s nuclear capabilities will have been constrained, and that is the primary goal. As of now, this agreement is a diplomatic achievement and with just the smallest amount of commitment and moral fortitude it will evolve into a significant stabilizing force in international relations.